Monday, July 31, 2006

Baby Steps

Some more positive news to share.

A wee while time ago I applied us for the Guardian Social Entrepreneur Awards. Fair amount of dosh, a whiz under noses of some useful judgepersons and... major media coverage!

Well, we're through to the next stage. How's about that? OK, so probably a lot of other fine folk are too, but it's better than a 'Sorry, but..' letter.

Wish us luck in September when we (taking First Lady PJ who has a bit more chance of keeping us suit-friendly with the forms than yours truly) go to make the next level pitch.

Two cultures separated by... common courtesy

Just before the weekend, I wrote to two of my favourite e-media blogs/newsletters, Grist and Treehugger (about whom, and others, I plan to write an article, er... soon). And just before the weekend I got replies. Short, polite, helpful (as far as they could be) and... as you will gather... prompt.

They both hail from the USA. I pose a question whose answer I think we all know... would I have heard back in this way, or even at all, if it had been addressed to media of any form closer to home?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Spend, spend, spend

And another from the archive, still 'Lost in Space' :

The other day I was in London, haunting the corridors of power, mixing with the governing class... getting nowhere fast. Of this, more later.

It does coincide with this little piece, about amounts of money blown, poorly, on 'communications', a subject dear (in every sense of the word) to my heart: There are far easier ways to excite teenagers

Of course, I could not resist a thought of my own.:

"There's nothing difficult in spending oodles of taxpayers' money, especially when it is on 'communication'. What IS easy is avoiding being pinned down to a defined ROI for such an exercise, yet if challenged conjure up a result that 'meets target' by producing an increase in 'awareness'. Effecting the tangible result of real change is a tad more tricky. After years in the ad game, I would wish all clients were so generous with their money and oversight. But then, they usually have products designed to be actually bought."

What was good about yesterday was the seeming commitment to helping business help the community. It remains to be seen if the juicy plums of ad budgets as part of that process stay with an elite, and seemingly unaccountable, few.

Teacher's Pet Gift Ideas

Well, that's it, I'm going to have to stop going e-postal. Just found another blog I emailed last week that is now in the Bermuda hyperspace (at least the spelling should get better):

I am shamed. But my eyebrow also twitches. And it's all because of this: Teachers 'prefer ethical gifts'

Last Friday saw my kids break up for summer. The morning saw a mad dash to get a card drawn up and a quick rummage in the kitchen cupboard managed to locate, with relief, a box of (non-Fairtrade?) Maltesers left over from last month's birthday party. With many assurances that this would be replaced, it was duly donated.

Our one small tilt to enviro-considerations was wrapping it in newspaper. Mrs. Jones does run the eco-club as well, after all.

But I have to say that I did not for one second ponder going the full monty ethically, as suggested here. Mainly because it did not occur to me... and certainly not in time.

And while it all seems a plan, I just wonder what the basis of this research was. Guy from the educational media standing there saying 'Do you, a guardian of our nation's youth and future, think it better to get a nice box of All Gold or bottle of Merlot, or do you think it's your job to point the little angels even further on the path of righteousness?'.

Just asking.

A while ago I stopped to help one of my sons' mate's mums change a tyre. She dropped off a nice red subsequently. I'm not sure a goat would have been quite the same.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Confused? You will be!

It's not easy being green. Especially a lite one. You want to do what's best, but just when you think you're doing the right thing by doing what you're told, along comes advice that can often be completely at odds.

Hence, while not strictly green, I look at this from today's Mail, which is about energy, so it is pertinent:

The Government has urged energy customers to switch suppliers after British Gas announced further price hikes. It is the fourth price rise in less than two years and follows a 22 per cent increase in March.

Woo. The Government. And in the Daily Mail what's more. So it must be a good idea, right? On balance it seems to make sense.

But then.... you find something like this trots along from another direction, this time Martin Lewis' Money-Saving Expert (go to his site to get the full skinny):

British Gas Major Price Rise Don't listen to anyone saying 'switch supplier now!' - British Gas has just announced a 12.4% gas price rise and 9.4% electricity price rise effective 4 September. You'll read comments telling you 'switch, switch, switch', yet that message is pumped by companies with a vested interest in churning the market. Actually the sensible thing to do is sit tight!

I respect this guy, his sources and his advice a lot. So I think I'll stick with this.

But what about all the other 'official' 'You shoulds...' we get, especially in the e-area?

I don't want to be a Groucho, but...

... to quote Mr. Marx the eldest, I often feel 'I wouldn't want to join any club that would have me as a member'.

I have been meaning to write about the whole 'free eBay'/swap arena for a while, and may soon do a formal review, but this - freecycle: TM, and R.I.P. - in today's Grist (an e-letter well worthy of subscribing to... for free) has moved me to put digit to keyboard now.

It’s always sad when something so fundamentally ‘good’, such as anything that’s not just talking about trying to save the planet but actually doing something (I’m big on tangibles) gets compromised – to any degree – by... talking. But I guess we all can't resist having opinions. So I simply advocate the notion of ‘whatever works!’, which does not exclude constructive criticism.

Freecycle is a true phenomenon, and certainly already has a firm foothold here in the UK. It is also about the only serious such initiative around that I'm aware of - not counting our little JunkkYard.

I'm pretty sure all the corporate, legalistic shenanigans would and possibly could not occur here, but we'll see. Academic anyway, as it hardly affects anything.

The issue seems to be cultural. Personally I had trouble (hey, ours is not perfect and we're always working on it... funds permitting) coping with the system Freecycle used/s and have given up with it. But a lot do. So if asked we will happily advocate trying JunkkYard AND Freecycle (and now a few others this post has made me aware of, if they are over here). Why not? They're both free, not exclusive and achieve the same result. And we gain from being helpful all round, so with luck will get revisited. So what is being defended here?

As a consumer you go where you feel comfortable. In the UK I sensed the same 'clique' tensions creeping in. When I could be bothered to read the vast numbers of daily emails, there'd often be sniping going on. Why so heavy? Who needs it?

For sure we're keen to create a community, and there is a Forum for people to engage, but mostly it's just a tool. Like some others mentioned, our model is much more Google or eBay. Donor/Beneficiary. Post/Surf. Offer/Collect. Beyond providing the matchmaking mechanism (and enjoying passive exposure to the traffic created) what other involvement is required?

We opened from day one with our hearts on our sleeves... well, our business model up there on our banners.

Much like Anita Roddick's sale of Body Shop, if you start as one thing, you can probably expect to cop some flak when you try and change the fundamentals. Especially having established with a super-ethical ‘no money involved’ stance, to trying to turn a buck, even if it’s just to keep funding the whole shebang. And moving from voluntary to sponsored will put a few supporters' noses out. Sadly the whole e-movement can be quite ‘purist’ in approach when it comes to making green, and beyond grubby money, standards of hotly advocated 'best practice' (who decides?) can also often alienate those who are a lighter shade and lives to get on with.

Frankly I can't quite see what’s the problem (being commercial that is). However, being uber-precious and especially getting the shark suits involved does not seem productive. I wonder who funds this aspect? And why? Does this suggest a another, possibly more financially-aspirational agenda?

If it is, consumer preferences and market forces will decide. Welcome to the club.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What you say may not be what you've done (or said)

Having posted on a forum/blog (see last post) this morning, I have come back to find a very active series of exchanges (mine's in there somewhere). It was interesting to note (and worthy of separate comment), that when I posted the board was still a blank canvas, though obviously many had been posting well before me, which can lead to unfortunate disconnects, especially if referring to another post.

I have tended to prefer such the Telegraph version to some other major media, because there is point in contributing beyond venting, as you do have the chance of a credit, and this can be of value. We have had sign-ups to the site as a consequence of my posting to these things in the past.

Now I am thinking of pulling back from these arenas, as explained by this subsequent post I have been moved to add (and may or may not get 'approved' at all, much less 'as is', despite the following: ' does not monitor, approve, endorse or exert editorial control over information posted by users'. Which I had taken to mean what one wrote, so long as it followed guidelines, was what went up. But apparently not):

"It hadn't occurred to me until now that, despite having a few issues to cover and working within a stated limit, what one has contributed even to a Blog/Forum can be edited before sharing. And this of course can seriously affect context. Not to mention shape the direction of the piece in the direction of the media controller's agenda. It can enhance the pros or cons of an issue, or simply keep things bubbling ratings-wise by emphasising the best 'bites'.

This has added to my doubts about the value of such things, but in mitigation here at least I offer a 'big up' (or maybe it should be 'God bless') to the power of the blogging system and its participants. Thanks to some today, I realise I should have been much more concerned with discovering further substance on what the good Bishop may or may not have said, and done or not have done, before so enthusiastically endorsing a piece that was quite harsh on his words and deeds, at least as reported. As we're on a theological roll, to paraphrase Pastor Niemoller , 'First they selectively quoted the Bishops, and I did not speak, yadayada... and now they have selectively quoted me and no one had the time (or inclination) to delve any deeper to find out what I'd really said'.

Otherwise I think most of what I anticipated earlier has been almost all been illustrated in many posts."

Maybe what ended up on board was pithier, and hence my effort benefitedtted from the editorial input, but it was not what I had written. And I think it omitted some key aspects I thought important.

For that, at least I still have my own blog.

A point well made is a point well taken

A good blog in today's Telegraph - Ignore the bishop: enjoy your holiday - on a subject (actually a couple) about which I have commented before, have here (below) and doubtless will again. It will be interesting to see what replies she gets. Here's mine ( a bit fuller than online, as they 'only' allow 4000 characters, which to a windbag like me is a cruel constraint:

"Very good. Ignore the bishop. Enjoy the holiday. But please don't dismiss the message.

This is an excellent post, so long as one reads all of it.

I agree totally that one of the greatest impediments to promoting the benefits of responsible (the definition and scope of which is obviously still wide open) environmental practices by the individual, is the notion that everything green must be black and white. Nuances abound, and too often those that seek to effect positive (in a global warming sense) changes, for whatever reason (career to enhance, book to sell, viral to promote, consultancy to secure, pension fund to stock up... or possibly even genuine concern), have to think very carefully before taking a moral high ground and aggressively tackling a narrow topic, especially one that may be dear to their hearts. Especially from a position of relative privilege. And more so by the excessive use of comparative negativity. Because it can all too easily backfire, and while debate is great, I fear for effecting change when everyone is too busy pointing fingers at each other when they should be encouraged to just get on and do what they can. How much of the introduction to this post was strenuous rebuttal before the positive suggestions kicked in?

Things have to be debated, and I use the blog on my site (which tries to offer solutions, ideas and things to do to hopefully improve matters 'enviro') to do this a lot, and sometimes end up in some 'healthy discussions', which unlike here I prefer to conduct one-to-one offline, as things can get a bit flaming daft as the entrenched camps weigh in. Not long ago I tried to convince a respected media commentator that calling fellow petrolhead scribes 'selfish' (that word again) for their obsession with high speed exotica could have set in motion a confrontational situation that did not serve his point as well as adopting a less personal and reasoned approach might have, especially as he introduced his article as written on a plane to Australia.

My other concern was that he seemed to also be tipping the wink to groups who were engaging in 'more robust' commentary on the rights or wrongs of others to buy and use a legally and freely available consumer good. This cannot be a productive route, no matter what the frustrations. Now it seems it's a plan to spit in my farmer (they do wear suits and often visit the big city) neighbour's coffee, if a new anti 4x4 viral ad is to be emulated. I'm sure the making of this latter was carbon offset to the nth degree, but having been on a few shoots I very much doubt every aspect was totally 'environmentally sound' with no compromises to getting the job done on time and within budget. Cast and crew drinking water from a tap and not an spring water bottle in sight?

We have to accept the compromises of living in an overpopulated (and 'ing') world, with an infinite desire and ability to make new things and (at least in affluent countries) the means and desire to embrace them. People no longer stay in their village their whole lives, and the desire to travel is almost ingrained.

Hence better ways must be found to change behaviours, some of which look like being painful. And must be massive in scale. I only have to glance up at the contrails in the sky each day (or revisit BBC Horizon's Global Dimming documentary) to feel that air travel has to be to be a hefty influence in unnatural weather patterns. But reversing a global industry that employs millions, provides pleasure (accepting this is one instance when the journey is not part of the holiday) to hundreds of millions and brings in revenue to billions more is not going to happen easily. Especially when one looks at the rate of new airport construction in developing countries.

A start has to be made, somewhere, and as we cannot be unaware any more it may as well be at home. One can't really ask a neighbour to put their house in order when you have historically been trashing yours and enjoying the party up until now (and still want to). Examples must be set. Alternatives sought and offered. As suggested, subsidies to pollute need to be restricted, but incentives with rewards introduced wherever possible (the points on fuel tax and rail costs are well made). And such notions need to be (excuse the pun) aired. But by whom?

Hence pedestals should be mounted very circumspectly. And those who take it upon themselves - priest, politician, celeb, commentators... blog participants - to pronounce from them to others on what not to do should think very carefully on what qualifies them to do so. And before being too smug, ponder also what circumstances have allowed them to pontificate. I have read a lot lately on the 'Green Elite', and it is not a club, like many, I could easily afford - in money, time or opportunity - to join. So practice what you preach, and if you do preach what you practice please make it inspirational rather than critical. Nothing can compromise a message more than being accused of hypocrisy, which usually ends up distracting away from simply getting on and doing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Say what?

A quick test of the blogging system to see if the emails are working again. The BBC has asked: Has the internet changed your life?

And I have replied:

"Email is invaluable. The net has given me affordable two-way access to the world, via my web-business/blog. And, via such as this Forum, an opportunity to voice an opinion in public elsewhere.

But...'s all now so vast it's but a babel of opinion, hard to substantiate (hence believe) fact, subjectivity and 'noise' - to which I have just contributed - that's almost impossible to absorb, much less cut through meaningfully to make any real positive impact.

Between just getting the invitation and writing my post, the entry pages jumped from 8 to 10. I don't have the time or inclination to read it all ( I will sneak a peak to see if I'm there) to assess context. What value is that?"

I must say I do wonder what the purpose of it all was to them. Will they have names they can use? Will it be for research? Will they glean some comments of use to further their knowledge base?

Or is it juts a major waste of time all round?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Well, they asked

There's a rather nice little website called Planet Science, targetted a younger audience, but does cover a fair mix of subjects in a user-friendly way.

Reminding me slightly of when my Civil Engineering degree progress hit my doing a Maths A level in 3 months (I once drew a cartoon of a climber hanging onto a cliff edge, entitled 'Another Failed Attempt At Scaling The Eigen Values' instead of answering a question about something I had no clue about), I would like to share their share by way of a a lighter break.

Not sure what the marking system at bottom right is, but surely the respondent did answer the question?

The wrongs of doing right

One night not so long ago there was a power cut, and I was deafened by the silence as hard drives and fans spun down around me. And plunged into the near pitch black as scores or red, green a blue lights faded along with monitor screen.

So it was I blogged a short while ago with approval on the proposal to 'ban' standbys. But I may have been hasty, at least in such total endorsement of it in the form proposed: Recipe for sofa rage if standby gets the heave-ho

As  measure to force couch potatoes to move from sofa to set at night's end it is a no-brainer, but there are obviously some pretty massive technological issues at stake here. Many, to be sure, stem from our addiction to technology, but that boat has long since sailed. You don't read this without both having a PC and doubtless a 24/7 router in the loft.

There is some room for optimism. From the absolutes  that are at the start of the piece, I started to read between the lines and sense that there were avenues that could be explored... if there was consumer will. If a set top box does not have an off switch then it surely could acquire one, surely. And if people don't like 'inconvenience', then tough. 

And the article helpfully ends with a helpful link that I in turn pass on to make the best of things for now:

PC Pro magazine offers realistic estimates of cost savings and more techniques you can apply today — without the need for government tinkering. Visit

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Help Wanted!

This is the fourth (of 4, at least recently) missing posts.
Apologies for any subsequent duplications.

Every morning, I awake with the larks and spend a fair few hours sifting through the overnight email collection of newsletters from near and far, and often get sucked off on some tangent that can deliver the sweet fruit of more knowledge.

I also derive a pretty hefty collection of folk I'd like to get in touch with, and hope to get on board with (and us with them) in the cause of synergy and mutual benefit.

And more often than not I'll stumble across an award, competition, grant or somesuch that needs investigating and, possibly, applying for.

This is all good stuff, but really makes only a small difference to helping be the entity it was intended to be.

Especially because little, if any of this info is currently making it to our pages.

I'm just so busy accumulating, I simply do not have the time to turn this into something that can be of interest and use on the site. Which is plainly ridiculous.

Plus there are now countless very fine online publications, blogs & Forums producing excellent news and views, with healthy and growing readerships... with enviably tasty ad support to match. And it's frustrating, because I can honestly say that I have read few that have anything I have not already come across already and, if such things really mattered, noted a lot earlier as relevant. And while a small minority do make an analysis or pass comment (almost all US-based), most are simply reprints of PR releases. We are guilty of this too, but mainly with 'info' stuff that can just be passed on. In mitigation there is this blog and such as our new PPProR section.

But is mostly about 'doing', and though all is in place to freely allow that to happen by any who choose to do so (person or company), the process requires constant nudging along. Specifications, ideas... and then sharing this near and far to inspire and encourage and attract more.

And that crucial aspect is falling behind.

So we need help. Bodies on the ground. Money to pay for them. We are applying for support from NGOs, government, initiatives, etc, but they are seldom keen on funding people's time. They like widgets. And targets.

There is promise in certain awards we've submitted to, and our premise is the establishment of 'representation' around the country. Perhaps ten 'regions' to start with. A bit like the Freecycle coordinators, only perhaps a little less rigid, clubby and cliquey, a little lighter green... and a bit more commercial, which means we aim to reward efforts and time.

When, as we hope, the money comes in, would you like to be part of this? It will inevitably be a slow start as we're on a learning curve, and I can't guarantee big bucks, and maybe not much at all initially. We'd certainly not expect you to be out of pocket, even from the outset! The kind of thing we envisage is as follows for 'Local Heroes', as we've named this project :

* Liaison with recycling/reuse organizations and media.

* Attending local events/fetes.

* Highlighting local re-problems and success stories.

* Initiating and moderating Forums/FAQ's on local e-topics.

Carried out by:

* Talking to local people/word of mouth.

* Surfing & contributing to local media sites and Forums.

* Contacting local organizations/councils/shops via the Internet, telephone/meetings etc.

* Show/Exhibition presence (we're planning roadtrip exhibition support)

If you think you like the sound of that, get in touch:

I think I've caught a viral...

This is 3 of 4 of recent missing posts. If the duplicate turns up, apologies.

...Or, at the very least, I'm on a list. No sooner does the Greenpeace 'viral' get sent to me, but now I have been sent another. At least the former was well targeted by the PR agency, but I'm damned if I know what some credit card has to do with my day.

I like(d) the idea of virals, at least as I understood them. But maybe I have missed the point. I thought it just like discovering new and edgy music used to be. An often vicarious pleasure, or through tuning into pirate stations, following anarchic DJs and haunting dodgy pubs, you stayed at the cutting edge. Now what's 'out here' is manufactured very much 'in here', and then served up under the guise of being raw. There are now archives, lists and awards. 'In people', who make sure we see what we're meant to, and nothing outside their control or ability to make some money from. There are probably already viral agencies (which I guess are like ad agencies only without the need to submit scripts or partner up with media buyers, though I guess they do now need PR agencies as a substitute).

When I was an aspiring creative, you begged, stole or borrowed to get a bit of time in an edit suite to cut a few frames together you'd knocked out on the HandyCam for the porty. Now it's full blown productions purporting to be without any corporate sanction or funding, when the dead hand of a trendy exec's brief is clear to all: 'use bad language, sex or violence (or all three) in some way that creates a hoo haa, and we'll get media coverage for free from the media gatekeepers who will be happy for the column inches/footage, and probably to lead to exposure more than the value of paid ads. Message is secondary. Action on the part of the consumer a surprise bonus.'

Meanwhile, I'm dusting off my HandyCam.... watch this space. No, really, watch this space...

What does your marketing say about you?

This is 2 of 4 of recent missing posts. If it turns up, apologies for the duplication.

My views on the whole 4x4 thing are well known (and if you don't know them, then there are around 400-odd posts to work back through to see that I don't own one, don't see the need for most to have one, but feel there are much bigger fish to fry, less divisively, than the current obsession some activists have with the stupid things. Any road up (geddit?), I was sent the latest Greenpeace 'viral' (not, as I thought was meant to be the way, by a chum, but rather the PR guys) and presume I am meant to pass it on. So here you are. Quicktime Windows media Flash

As an ad person, I have seldom seen such an overlong, indulgent bit of tosh in my life, delivered with so little wit. You can affect change with satire and lampooning (I have some footage in mind that could be cut to mock Chelsea Tractor drivers with their own words), but not like this. I almost felt like buying one if only to stick it to the whole backstabbing, besuited, Specsaver-wearing, sneering bunch of them. While I didn't quite agree with the message, I was impressed with the anti-nuke version not so long ago, at least as an execution.

I presume that it was all shot to the highest ethical standards and carbon whatsits, and no member of the production team, cast or crew arrived on anything but a bike and drank only from taps.

But I just live for the moment that anyone involved who thinks its hip or smart to gob in someone's cup for making a currently free consumer choice gets hoist with their own petard. For instance when my mate the farmer's daughter gets out of Uni, and when she's asked for a decaf decides to get her own back for missing the train scraping Greenpeace posters (more concerned with advertising their sponsor's energy tariff) off her Dad's Land Rover.

This was a lot of money, too (unless it was all a porty job by some daft agency with more hype than sense in its sights). So I hope the extra subs they may get pay of the office, director's bonuses and pensions, with enough left over for the awards ceremony dash to Cannes and, oh, maybe some decent planet saving as well.

Because I very much doubt this will stop any potential purchaser (should they ever see it, which I doubt, unless Jeremy Clarkson has a go at it, which he might - see conspiracy theory in earlier posts), and simply set those with a grudge on a path from which no one will benefit.

Nil points.

Winding up inventors

This is 1 of 4 of some recent missing posts (if it turns up, sorry for the duplication)

I actually can't better this title, at least in the context of this blog topic, so I'll simply nick it - Winding up inventors. That's a blog in the Observer today, and their own link (lovingly cut & pasted, so it isn't me... honest) doesn't work, so I'll include a wee bitty of what it was all about here:

"Trevor Baylis is enthused. He's been asked to judge a competition to find an energy-saving invention and he's looking forward to seeing what people come up with."

I am of course grateful at yet another such an opportunity to stay indoors slaving over another application (hence my sticking with that title), but of course had my own thoughts (which you will not see as the blog link seems to be dead):

"Great initiative. I shall certainly be applying. Why not? It's free!

But such efforts do take time to enter. And having quickly scanned the competition site I just hope that it won't restrict itself (or at least favour) only to 'things', which is where the second page of the entry form seemed to be heading.

I once coined the phrase 'Widgets from Wigan Syndrome' (not in a happy way) after a UKTI (an NGO-type entity mightily staffed, and funded, to encourage export of the British 'wares') event. It became rather apparent that there is a lot more understanding of, and hence sympathy and support for designing a thing/widget.

Service or internet-based (ironically the section of the site about 'great energy ideas' is currently offline due to a fatal script error) ideas seem less easy to get folks' heads around. Something you can touch is often sexier and easier to 'get'.

However, while I truly believe and accept that 'inventions' need to be sustainable and substantial, there are so many things in the world of saving the world that can be more complex and subtle, and need not necessarily be a 'thing' whose value can be weighed between the cost to make and market vs. projected unit sales.

As a veteran of many an oil-company (eg: Shell), consumer good (eg: Rolex) and media (Guardian!) initiated and/or sponsored event of this nature, I'm crossing fingers that to stand a chance I don't necessarily need to break out the lathe.

And while the money is significant, and most certainly can go a long way to 'making something', it's worth noting that it will pale into insignificance with the true costs of bringing anything to market, especially the promotion side.

At least with media support this has a built-in 'step up' already, and hence has to be worth a go."

The define miss blog

I just have to share this. Now I'm blogging on the blogger site, there's a lot more functionality to play with, such as a Spellchecker, which I just used on the last piece. The words it didn't recognise were 'blog' and 'blogging'.

So in future, I guess I'm writing a bloc.

I blog, therefore I am...

... a [fill space to taste].

There's a lot of blogging about blogging these days, and in writing this I feel a bit like one of those illusions using a mirror to reflect its own image in a mirror.... endless.

I think it best to draw a line, at least by the end of this.

I like blogging. Even if it's just for me, I can get stuff off my chest, leave a record (a chap on the BBC Newsnight blog I mentioned a few posts ago made a point - not necessarily the right way - about how those that ask our opinions very often don't print them (why should they?) but also often don't acknowledge them (which is plain rude. BBC's Working Lunch is a prime example mentioned, and it is not unique. Hence copying one's hard-crafted efforts onto one's own blog at least means they are published... somewhere) ) and remind myself of stuff. I also like to think they may have a broader appeal with value as entertainment, thought-provocation and plain information. I

If it gets a few folk back to my site, why not?

Friday, July 21, 2006

This is how I like my eco-activism: subtle

I'm surprised not to have come across this before, or more often Rare herb sighting plants suspicions

It's sneaky, but you have to admire the playing of the system.

Now if I can just get this darned Dodo egg to hatch, I think I can do something about that pesky outfit next door.

Where on ether do posts go?

I just noticed one my Bermuda Trianagle posts from the other day just turned up.

Where the heck was it between sending and it being registered eventually?

I think I'd best consider not emailing them remotely in future.

Wrongs of reply

I quite like Newsnight, at least some bits, especially those when some pedestal dweller who needs a hole tearing... gets it. And of course there is their Ethical Man series, which we have followed with interest.

So it was, with interest, to note that they apparently check out all those who write about them.

Maybe it is because we have also tried writing to them on a few occasions that we have been ignored so far, but as the point to this post (and my inevitable reply - below) is rights of reply, we are in fairly meandering territory.

I guess the most important thing is to remember is that he or she who controls the medium controls what is said, or seen to be said. What you choose to include can still shape things to your purpose. Even in blogs.

My reply:

"I have a blog, and it used to have the facility for responses. But while it was often good and valuable to engage in debate with respondents, I just didn't have enough hours in the day to deal with some issues going on and on, and it seemed rude to just leave things hanging. Plus the minute you get into controversial territory (and dealing as I do with environmental issues there are many... I can only wonder what Newsnight gets itself into, and not just with Ethical Man, which has been mentioned a few times here!) it can all too often get a bit flaming silly, even when you as the initiator stay hands off from the get-go!

So I don't quite agree that you should have to accept comments, unless you want to. It's a personal web log. Obviously by making it freely available you need to accept that it will get read (why else do it?), and those who objected as stated in the post are plain daft. I treat my blog as an opportunity to publish things as would any writer/journalist (am or pro), but perhaps a bit more 'raw' and less constrained to provide an alternative to the corporate view.

My site has a Forum for those who wish to engage (though we are tough moderators on those who try to dominate agendas with aggressive tactics, as we prefer to encourage those who just wish to ask questions and seek helpful answers), and there are plenty of ways to reach me to take matters further. I'd like to think that if there were worthy points to be made to something I have posted, I'd be big enough to reprint them... along with my answer!

But as with any media, I guess I feel certain editorial control is not unfair for the reasons stated above (mine and this blog's rules).

The laws of libel still surely still apply if one is seriously agitated, and in most other cases it is perhaps best just to ignore anyone trivial just being silly, unfair, etc. If it's on your blog then you have your audience to consider. If it's on their blog, well, it's a free(ish) world.

And if you decide not to include this, fine. But it will of course be on mine!"

Energy from corn

There's nothing quite like an American heart-tugger execution to have you reaching for the barf-bag, but this is worth sharing for its positive way of getting the message across (not to mention the company in question!). needs to do something similar, but perhaps a tad more... us as opposed to US.

One of our blogs is missing

Actually, more than one.

This has happened before, and doubtless will again.

I tend to write my blogs as emails and then send them in. It is just quicker and easier.

But every so often, they 'vanish' in transit. So the last few are in the ether. They may pop up; they may not. If the don't I'll have to 'go manual' and repost, so apologies for any out of sequence or duplicates.

I of course tried the help, FAQs and Forum, but nothing there (at least in the first hundred posts) , and have an auto-reply from the support team but expect little.

We'll see.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Talk is cheap. Doing costs.

Not a bad little article blog I stumbled across in the Times today, which actually had some suggestions. And, so far, some rather interesting responses:
And as it asked for an explanation, I offered mine (sods have a character limit, so I had to actually think about what I was saying rather than letting fly a stream, which makes for a shorter than usual blog):
"Why? Talk is cheap. Doing costs... especially money. Not attractive to those more keen on making gold before green (I advocate they need not be mutually exclusive). Short-termism is rife these days, especially in boardrooms and cabinets. CEOs and ministers will be long in their gold-plate-pension-funded mausoleums before the consequences of their actions kick in. It's hard, not very fashionable, and probable career suicide, to think a few generations hence.
There are those who care, and seek to act. So as someone who has invested a lot personally in a small effort to redress the situation, please be careful with that rather broad, negative 'we'.
Controlling, restricting, scaring, banning, fining, etc may all serve certain roles. But these and even 'informing', using millions of taxpayers' money, are not really delivering a great ROI so far, planet-saving wise. So I applaud your incentive-driven advocacy.
A rallying cry of ‘Re:wards 4 Anything 'Re:'!'
Might even catch on."


"Whilst waiting to see if my previous post on this has been accepted, I now see a fair few have appeared. So I hope I may add another comment.

It is interesting, inevitable, ironic but a little sad that such a piece seems to have generated so much more talk surrounding the 'factual' causes of global warming and/or man's contribution. Or not. With a 2-wrongs dose or two of 'But they're doing it'.

I do care, but in the context of the piece do such issues matter?

Surely it is simply efficient in this ever more populating world to engage with every and any cost-effective reduction in waste - and maximisation of efficiency - that we can?

Or we can just keep on talking, and squandering the one resource that Status Quo fans would deny us: time."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Whichever way, the wind blows?

More double entendres in that title than an entire season of Up Pompeii!
And it is inspired by this Cameron's home improvements may be green, but he’ll end up in the red
For now I'll spare commentary on the Honourable Leader of Her Maj's Opposition being a bit of a bandwagon chaser, and restrict myself to the turbine issue, which he in part is responsible for me getting all excited about, and shows that some caution is needed before rushing to be green.
Because to this point, I was pretty convinced these things were not a bad plan, though I had been, and still am, concerned on the ability of a domestic chimney handling the load. This, however, adds another dimension: "Trevor Butler, director of sustainability at the Building Design Partnership, says the kit amounts to little more than expensive gadgetry. “I would estimate the daily output of the turbine at roughly 1 kilowatt-hour per day,” he said. “The average price of electricity in London at the moment is 10p per kilowatt-hour. As the cost of the turbine is £2,600, the payback would be 71 years. The renewables can be seen as expensive gadgets — but they do raise awareness.”
Certainly something to bear in mind.
And just to add a bit more 'to the mix', here's a littel snippet on how your average media news person has fared so far, from Newsnight's 'Ethical Man' series.

Laugh? I could have died. We still can.

I try to keep things in a lighter vein wherever possible, and certainly prefer to avoid gazing at my navel, but something happened the other night that had a profound, and disturbing, effect on me.

I was watching, of all ridiculous things, a comedy quiz show called '8 Out Of 10 Cats'. This is just one of several such shows where it is the taking part, rather than the winning, which is important. Hosted by a witty comedian, Jimmy Carr, it had two teams composed mainly of equally witty folk, most of whom will invite him to be a panelist on their show. So far, so entertaining.

But I guess what struck home was a comment at the end which the host made, and maybe more affecting was everyone's reaction to it. Mr. Carr doesn't tell jokes as such, so it was more observational humor. It was do do with 'environmental types', I guess like me. And while the specifics have dimmed, it was something like 'All these eco-warriors say it's about saving the planet for future generations. Well , I say **** 'em' (I think he meant the future generations - an audience it's hard to offend, yet, by dint of not being around as yet), for which he got a roar of approving laughter from all involved.

And he's not alone. I'm hearing and reading about this view a lot:

New Spin Tactic? Forget scientists... let's use comediansChristian Science Monitor today employs a comedian to battle global warming science, with such insight as: "...we shouldn't worry about the distant future." I guess they figure the PR stall tactics aren't working anymore so they're going to humour us into inaction.

I have taken my family to brink of serious financial compromise by trying to be part (a small one) of a movement that is trying to secure the future by acting today. Neither I nor, I suspect my kids, are going to see any benefit for these actions (or real consequences for failing to act), and in fact are possibly going to suffer a fair bit because of them.

What do I do? I can either go down fighting the good fight, or give up and try and rejoin the very system I abandoned a fair while ago. Right now I don't see I have a choice to ensure the survival of my immediate family, immediately. 

At least will still exist and can go on to do some good (my own personal carbon offset). With luck it will grow and offer some form of return on the investment made to provide for my wife and my futures. 

But having been confronted by attitudes such as those listed above, and simply had enough wasting my time staying on top of hot-air generating, deck-chair-rearranging, well-meaning but ultimately fruitless talkfests such as this - Our wasteful ways will finish us off   - I really think I better re-assign my time a bit better to attending to those closer to home.

I cannot be accused like some of saying '**** you' to my great, great grandkids, but do feel the need to say sorry here and now (my wife and own kids I'll address in person when and if the need arises) for as yet not acheiving for your sake all that I'd hoped. 

At least I tried to do something, and it may yet pan out. 

And we'll have the last laugh.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bag to the drawing board?

One of the biggest hurdles 'we' (I'm lumping us in with the whole e-advocacy movement here) face is persuading everday folk to change their ways in the cause of environmental good practice. So, while perhaps no great surprise, this was a disappointment: Bag re-use campaign fails to win over shoppers 

But to achieve this less than spectacular result, I am now more than a little interested in the cost of "A range of public relations and marketing tactics were tried during the campaign, including local media coverage, road shows, leafleting, in-store promotions, competitions and work with local schools."

And I frankly plain don't understand these two statements: "WRAP's report revealed that it had proved difficult in a pressured retail environment, to sustain all of the activities throughout the trial period of 10 weeks. At the time, WRAP said the campaign was going so well, it was extended by a few weeks."

While I made a nice little living in my career designing the things, another thing I am also not convinced about is that a logo is going to make much difference on the back of this. 

Time for a rethink?

Support your local supporter

This one is interesting. There I was in my local community centre, and what catches my eye but a leaflet advertising Freecycle. 'Ello, ello,' I says, 'where did they get the promo budget for all this, and how?'

Well, on closer inspection the answer to where is in the logos at the bottom. A few nice councils and some NGOs with tasty budgets.

How, of course, is another matter. And especially as I see merit in seeing how we can get them to engage with in the same way.

This, of course, will be an adventure.

The key hurdle is contained within that phrase 'voluntary
international organisation'. Which is up there in largesse attraction from funders with 'not for profit' and 'charity'. Those on nice index-
linked salaries and gold-plated pensions prefer you to either not be
making any money, or better yet a living either.

Now Freecycle is dead spiffy. It's free and serves a great re-
function. Just like our very own JunkkYard, and of course all the
other additional re-features brings that can prevent waste.
But sadly, even though we don't charge anyone for anything, we are
'commercial' so I see certain obstacles already, even though we by
any measure are doing a lot of good and deserve equal support.

Worth a try though. Watch this space.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Well, we knew they were trying...

Couldn't resist. An interesting approach to the whole food miles issue. It may also be worth wondering what they are not trying so hard with elsewhere...shire.

Nice work if you can get it

Sometimes, the numbers involved can be mind boggling. I remember 'when I were a lad' the biggest account move in UK ad history was the £10 million Austin Rover business. Now we have Review for £50m Carbon Trust business begins.

Now I would be the first to defend, and even advocate the value of investing in public and business awareness, and the encouragement of good e-practices. Frankly I look forward the being the beneficiary of some of this marketing budget largesse... sooner, hopefully, than later.

However, being in a slightly better than most position to be exposed to announcements of this nature, I am still getting to grips with the sheer number of different organisations who are out there dispensing public funds... whopping great amounts of them.

And, as I have pondered before, I do wonder about the way that this money gets doled out to be in turn doled out. Who decides? Who briefs? Who assesses the results and measures the ROI? If it were a commercial brand and I was their agency I know what would be entailed with a budget of £50 million. Are the same standards applied? It's all well and good hitting a target or moving perception some points, but at such an amount I'd blooming well hope so. What are 'we' getting for 'our' money?

I just have to hope that this is being well managed to achieve the best result(s). All I know is that, as an individual and a business, I have tripped over CT banner ads almost everywhere (good targetting or just mass targetting?) and most did not get me to go much further into the message. Likewise I have had a lot of nifty packs, brochures and flyers which have still not really pushed my buttons. And of course that (in)famous DM piece 'fan' which suggested that if I didn't like it I could mail it back 'to save the environment'.


Works for me! Well, make that 'Doesn't work'.

This from today's Times: TV standby buttons will be outlawed

I'm just glad they didn't decide to tax them or fine them. And perhaps not a good precedent for all those free-marketeers driving their 4x4s, flying on holiday, heating their patios or drinking bottled water.

It all makes a kind of sense, but why am I a tad uneasy about who is in charge?

A copy of a parody of a blue pencil, er, red paperclip

This is already complicated, but stick with me.

For a start, if you're here via the Guardian, Welcome! You are one smart cookie.

If not, this is a bit of a musing on blogs, hype and stuff in general.

I'm a bit of a blog junkie I guess, fairly obviously. I write one regularly and often at length. I also read a lot. And then pitch in. But I think for my health, sanity, wealth and a lot of other important reasons I should cut back. The question is... how?

Analysing why I do it, the reasons are three, two major and one minor. Reading is simple. I find stuff out. However the benefit to effort ratio is not great. This is not a bad description of what one goes through to understand why: Mugged by the blogosphere - or how to find nuggets in a cyberswamp 

Contributing is another matter. I prefer only to do so when there is potential benefit. Maybe some of my bon mots may strike a chord and result in a positive result for me and/or my business. This really is only likely if those reading the blog post know who I am and where to link to to find out more. The Telegraph allows this. The Guardian does not. Though I am trying a small experiment, hence the comment at the top. See here:

(In case my comment doesn't make it, it's in response to a blog about the consequences of the chap who traded his red paperclip up to a house: 

"I'd like to jump on the inevitable PR/hype bandwagon too late (darn, that's been done), by offering in exchange to mention your blog on my blog (double darn it, now that's been done too) in the hope that I can piggy back on a major medium's coverage of 'something' to get a few folk in the direction of my minor, and completely unconnected, business (shoot, that's been done, too. What are the odds?). 

But boy, is it worth the 30 seconds' effort I just expended just in case there are a few out there on a slow news day with some time to kill (try Google. Hint: I work for a company and I'm male).

Anyway, at least today's blog on my site just wrote itself."

The third reason is just to vent, and there's nothing wrong with that. Unless it affects the day job, which it's starting to do.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pop goes the... er... pop

I do jest, but considering the current concerns about there being a bit much of the stuff, I thought this was quite funny:

 Britain's CO2 shortage not a threat to fizzy drinks

Maybe a solution to global warming is suggested, though I fear for the nations teeth and waistlines.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Eat my dust

Don't really like the Economist online stuff as much as the others, as they make you go through hoops (and possibly end up paying), but I got enough from the intro to So much hot air Jul 4th 2006  From The Economist Global Agenda

Europe’s carbon-trading scheme has started awkwardly but could be a useful model

IMAGINE a world in which the driver of a small, fuel-efficient car, or even a cyclist, can sell his quota of pollution credits to the owner of a gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicle. The seller is rewarded for doing his bit to keep the planet green, the buyer pays a bit more for the privilege of warming the earth on his way to the supermarket. 

I pop this in because it is similar to the recent aviation debate. I say similar rather than identical because I think car travel in some form or other is a simple necessity that it's hard to imagine society being able to manage without, where a lot of air travel is more of a luxury that we probably can reduce more easily (anguished cries from the travel industry).

I'm still trying to get my head around this. On balance getting rewarded for getting from A to B in the most eco manner is to be lauded, but I can't quite see giving free rein to rich petrolheads is the way to go either. But then this is pretty much what I was advocating for air travel between an eskimo and a frequent flyer, so hey-ho.

A fair point was made in the debate instigated by MEP Dr. Lucas (recent blog), where she was rather held to account for how her air travel came across as slightly more 'necessary' than others, which is a bit of pedestal posing on the part of the pols I have raised before, when the haves decide who keeps and who has not in future. 

But we do rather get to a pretty draconian level of mandatory maximums on personal travel. It reminds me a bit of a very funny piece (well, they all were) in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where visitors to a planet have to account for their bodily impact during their stay, so getting a receipt at the loo is pretty vital to avoid painful consequences in the departure lounge

I guess it's a case of two legs good. 

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sky High

I broke my rule and pitched into a forum debate in the Guardian today - The stratospheric cost of cheap flights - prompted by Green MEP Dr. Caroline Lucas.

Some interesting, and varied opinions in the mix.

Here are mine:

"Though it is obviously (oh boy, is it ever) still up for debate, I personally believe that whatever 'we' are doing as an ever-growing global population, the consequences of our existences, rich or poor, are not helping halt the negative aspects of climate change.

Closer to home, and this discussion, I also believe that air travel emissions are quite high on the list of probable causes and need addressing.

A while ago I caught the tail end of yet another academo/journalistic spat about climate warming - - and would just like to share this:

"[You are] flying on holiday and the plane is ½ hour out over the Atlantic. Of 150 aerospace engineers on board, 90 say that there's been a fuel leak and the plane has 40 minutes of flying time left. It's time to turn around. The other 60 say that there's no conclusive evidence of a leak and [you] should not turn around because it would inconvenience the CEOs in business class."

The conclusion is also worth sharing: '[The] debate is about risk, not certainty. [We] might choose to listen when more than half the experts are warning of a problem that threatens our entire species'.

Asking who flies where how often is obviously fun when the 'greener than thous' get on their specific and saintly hobby horses, but really doesn't address the bigger picture. Yet, of those on board (sorry) with the notion that it's a problem requiring a solution, we still seem to be circling (sorry again:)) around what to do.

I don't really understand all these trading schemes very well, and have my suspicions that they will just create a whole new breed of very rich folk who will be able to afford to fly around discussing what they are trading. And on a personal holidaymaker basis, I am equally not sure that whacking another fir tree in the Gobi to make up for a stag trip to Rimini is going to help much either.

Both simply seem to be trying to buy off our guilt and/or the consequences of demanding our right to go where, when and as often as we please, simply because we can.

Plus these solutions all seem potentially so socially divisive on top of the eco-consequences, as it will inevitably be those with the dosh who get to make the trips if it boils down to just money.

As a small suggestion, I'd advocate some form of individual quota system, where you're allowed a certain number of airmiles per annum per person.

You want to do more, you can trade with those who don't need or want them (so all those business types on a jolly will need to get them off a some poor eskimo whose igloo has just melted).

This does of course simplistically ignore a few global societal imbalances (if every Chinese agri-worker or bushman in the Kalahari gets the right to 10k airmiles, the planet would be toast in a week), economic realities (just where exactly are all those who depend on the current - let alone proposed - levels of air travel going to be reassigned?) and remarkably optimistic hopes of planetary cooperation in the spirit of self-preservation over self-interest, but then that's what politicians are for, isn't it?

But a start (to stopping - 50 airports' worth taking off from a 'soon to be affluent enough to afford it' China is a... concern) needs to be made.

This at least is an attempt. A tad unilateral. Fraught with inequalities and impracticailties for sure, but better than doing nothing.

I am prepared to hold my breath, and just hope there's a resolution before I really have to... for good."

WrapAtak #2

I'm always up for a freebie. And it seems churlish to complain when
it's delivered, but I'm afraid I find this one a bit daft and worthy
of comment.

A wee while ago I came across an offer by a major paper company
(whose products we're happy to use) to request a recycling box (or
three). Well, we always have a use for a box, so why not? And I duly

Well, they arrived. And dead spiffy they are too.

But does it really make sense for them have come all the way from
Germany... by courier!

And would it have been beyond their ken to make the boxes their paper
gets delivered in provide the same purpose. An opportunity lost.

Full marks for the sentiment. Nil points for much else, I'm afraid.


Time now for one of my cheeky eyebrow raises. After the flurry of eco-
articles on travel, cars, etc, I couldn't help be notice that the
media's fervour has moved on a bit, and so not much mention of the
footy WAGS using private jets like taxis.

And now I have spotted this: Me and My Motors: Maria Sharapova

"When Maria Sharapova came from nowhere to win Wimbledon aged just
17, she was still being ferried to training sessions in the family’s
ageing Honda — the only car the Sharapovas had ever owned. Fast
forward two years and the 19-year-old Russian will be chauffeur-
driven to the All England club in a £50,000 Range Rover Sport."

I'm just a bit intrigued as to why a) a 4x4 is necessary to navigate
the wilds of Wimbledon and b), perhaps more interestingly, why no one
that I can spot from the green brigade (I'm green lite so don't
count) has yet had a peep to say about it.

Then again, I wonder how many of our green elite are parked in centre

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mea Culpa. And you, ah, too!

Nothing like a title that gets straight to the point: Who’s to Blame for Global Warming?

I found this one both intriguing and refreshingly different to the usual, hence worth sharing.

And as an e-WASP by accident of birth, I guess it was nice to get away from the incessant Western guilt-tripping (and bashing) for a short while.

The main point is that we are all in this together... globally. Whether this gets taken is another matter.

Now, maybe I should have mash with my curry in future?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Meanwhile, look what's just flown into my in-box

Bearing in mind one tends to read these 'newest first', I do often ask for a little backflip for context, as in this case.

Because, just as I was helping put the boot into airport expansion (and an increase in our flying culture in general), look what cropped up (an emailed press release, and while I'm sure there is a URL I can't be fagged in this heat to go and find it, sorry):

From the office of the South-East England’s Green MEP Caroline Lucas


July 4th,




AIRLINES have been left reeling after a vote in the European Parliament
called for a raft of measures to tackle their growing contribution to
climate change.

Euro-MPs in Strasbourg voted by 439 to 74 to adopt proposals drafted by
Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas to introduce a range of measures including an
airlines-only CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme and emissions charges to tackle
their non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. There were 102 abstentions.

Dr Lucas told fellow MEPs the EU must take action to curb airlines’
greenhouse gas emissions if we are to stand any chance of avoiding
devastating climate change: “Doing nothing just isn’t an option”.

"The aviation sector is growing fast – aircraft movements are predicted to
double by 2020 and triple by 2030 - and technological efficiency gains just
aren't enough to counteract the massive increases in emissions that this
will generate.

“We simply have no choice but to clip the airlines' wings and force them to
reduce their impact on the climate, if we are to stand any chance of cutting
our emissions by the level that’s needed to halt the deadly march of climate

"Airlines currently enjoy a complex array of tax breaks and hidden subsidies
- worth more than £9 billion in the UK alone - which are long outdated and
totally incompatible with global climate goals. International progress on
removing these and getting the industry to pay its way has been pitifully
slow, which is why we must ensure the EU really paves the way for global
action by introducing the most effective legislation possible.

 “Emissions trading has the potential to play a role in reducing the climate
change impact of aviation - but only if it is accompanied by other measures
to tackle the fact that aircraft emissions are two to four times more potent
than those from other industries (because of the altitude at which they are
emitted, and the effects of non-CO2 emissions like condensation trails and
nitrogen oxides) – and, crucially, only if it doesn’t allow airlines to
carry on business as usual by gobbling up the emission rights of other

MEPs have been intensively lobbied by the airlines in recent weeks – with
most calling for air travel to be included in the EU’s existing Emissions
Trading Scheme: a measure which will do little to deter airlines’ future
emissions growth. Even Andrew Sentance, BA’s head of environmental affairs,
openly admitted as much last week.

Dr Lucas’s report will now form the Parliament’s submission to the EU
Commission’s forthcoming legislative proposals – which could be on the EU
statute book by 2008.

“At a time when few now deny the urgency of addressing climate change, the
rapid growth in flying threatens to throw all efforts to reduce dangerous
emissions off course,” added Dr Lucas, who is also an MEP for South-East
England and Green Party Principal Speaker.

“We must work together to find ways of making the aviation industry reduce
its social and environmental impact, rather than draining tax payers’ cash
as it continues to generate pollution, noise, congestion – and climate

Moves are afoot, one suspects.

Plane and (not so) simple.

Gollygosh. Two in one day. Another I can't really fault in message and tone, and am happy to endorse. Interesting however to note this one requires your address to be valid, whilst the previous one did not. I wonder who was right?

Aviation is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change. As part of Airportwatch, Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to rethink its aviation policy - you can make a difference by emailing the Secretary of State for Transport at You can also lessen your environmental impact by holidaying in the UK or finding alternative ways to travel at (includes destinations in the UK, Europe and beyond).

And of course, I did have a few tweaks of my own. It is hardly credible that 'we' do all this and end up at the mercy of economies not so moved:

To: Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for Transport

Dear Mr Alexander,
Re: 2006 Aviation White Paper Review
As you will gather, I am using the template provided by airportwatch, to which I was directed by Friends of the Earth.
I have to take as fact their assertion that The Government’s 2003 Aviation White Paper was widely condemned as unsustainable, even by its own environment and sustainability advisers. And aspects of its methodology have been repeatedly questioned but never addressed. I note the problems with current aviation policy, which include:
Climate Change
It allows a huge increase in CO2 emissions from aviation, making it all but impossible for the Government to meet its long-term climate change targets.
It means worsening noise levels, day and night, for more people because the increase in the number of planes will more than offset any improvements in the noise of individual aircraft.
Countryside and Heritage Under Threat
It will threaten the character, diversity and tranquility of the countryside and sacrifices an unacceptable number of historic listed buildings
Impact of Oil Prices on long-term passenger forecasts
Current forecasts underpinning the White Paper do not take sufficient account of rising oil prices.
The programme of airport expansion was justified by a flawed assessment of the economic benefits of aviation, funded by your Department and the industry working in tandem. It failed to address the tax breaks the aviation industry enjoys through tax-free fuel and exemption from VAT, which cost the economy at least £9 billion a year in lost revenue.
In 2006 the Government has a unique opportunity to review its policy. Yet so far it has talked of producing only a ‘progress report’. Given the problems outlined above, nothing less than a fundamental policy rethink will do. Please write to assure me that you will:
1.  Rein back expansion so it is consistent with your target of a 60% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
2.  Recognise the limits rising oil prices will put on demand for air travel as we head towards $100 per barrel
3.  Remove the tax-breaks the aviation industry enjoys*
4.  Reassess air freight which currently pays no tax whatsoever *
5.  Reduce both the day and night time noise suffered by local communities, as well as the numbers of people affected
6.  Respect the country’s biodiversity and heritage including ancient woodlands and listed buildings
7.  Revisit (with all that word entails) rail as an alternative to short-haul flights
8.  Revise the economic assessment of the aviation industry
9.  Review your unsustainable expansion plans for the UK air transport industry by taking immediate urgent action on all the points above
10. Rethink the "predict & provide" approach put forward in the White Paper.
*I am encouraged that this template does try and offer workable solutions without being impossibly idealistic. However I do also recognise that there are economic imperatives nationally, within the EU and amongst the major economies that do make unilateral actions problematic. However these cannot be used as excuses for inaction or procrastination.
Personally, all I need to do is look up at the sky over Ross on Wye to see how much the current level of air travel must be leaving its mark on the climate. Any more planes in the air can only be a very serious retrograde step, and adding more airports is like adding more bars to the high street whilst talking about the consequences of our drinking culture.
I look forward to your reply.


I don't always agree with everything e-activist organisations get up to, but the FoE scores more often than most, as with this, which I was happy to support and would encourage readers of this blog to do so, too:

Almost all changes in waste policy in the UK rely on European Union laws. The EU is currently discussing a revision of waste laws, with both EU Member States and the European Parliament voting to decide what changes. Friends of the Earth wants to persuade the UK Government to push for improvements. Email Ian Pearson MP, the UK Minister for the Environment, to push for more waste prevention and maximum recycling - visit

Of course I could not resist a slight tweak, but as you'll gather should you compare, I think they got the content and tone pretty much right on:

To: Ian Pearson MP, UK Minister for the Environment ( a new one!)

Dear Mr. Pearson,

Using the FoE template as its basis, I am writing to you regarding the new EU Thematic Strategy on Waste Prevention and Recycling and the draft revision to the Waste Framework Directive.
I fully endorse the suggestion that the revised EU waste policy should be focussed firstly on the prevention or reduction of waste, and secondly on ensuring that as much waste as possible is reused, recycled and/or composted. I'd also like to encourage the notion of repair as a complementary option.
I amazed to learn that they are not already so enshrined, as they really are no-brainers, but the key changes I agree need to be in the proposed waste laws are:
1) A clear description of the waste hierarchy, ie that prevention/reduction is the best option, followed by reuse, then recycling and composting, then energy recovery, and finally landfill.
2) Creation of an effective process to ensure that waste is prevented, for example by ensuring that companies design their products to produce less waste. My own company,, is highly active in this area, and we are constantly amazed how much effort and expenditure goes into such as recycling which, while certainly highly important, need not be the only solution.
3) A phase out of the disposal (by incineration or landfill) of any waste that can be reused, recycled or composted.
I am pleased to note that the wording of this template provided by the FoE acknowledges certain practical situations that authorities often face, and seeks more to rearrange the order of priorities rather than dealing in idealistic absolutes.
This all makes very good sense for every party.